GLENAVON 2-2 LINFIELD 26.2.2011

Was at Mourneview Park today for the Irish League game between Glenavon and Linfield.

The less said about the result, the better. One positive is that our glorious leader, David Jeffrey might have finally cottoned on to the fact that the defenders he are choosing are just wrong, and we are at the mercy of any team that puts us under the most minimum of pressure.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, Mourneview Park is one of my favourite away grounds to visit, especially as it is friendly to amateur photographers.

The ground has changed a lot since my last visit in October 2009. with the terracing behind the goal to the right of the TV screen now being knocked down.

Didn’t get any photos that I consider to be “Flickrable”, but I did get some not bad photos. Enjoy.

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IMELDA MAY LIVE AT THE OH YEAH CENTRE 23.2.2011

Was at the Oh Yeah Centre on Wednesday night for a TV recording for a show called “Sounds Of The Cities“, currently being broadcast on Channel 4, presented by Matthew Horne.

The one that was recorded in Belfast is scheduled to be broadcast late on Wednesday 2nd March.

The only artist I saw was Imelda May. She was excellent. Before this show, i’d only known one song by her, ‘Mayhem

I seriously can’t suggest her enough.

Recording was delayed by two hours due to technical issues, which plagued the recording of May’s performance (Not her problems though, she was excellent)

Having come straight from work, I was absolutely shattered and just headed home, but I was thankful i’d went.

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LINFIELD 3-0 DUNMURRY REC 21.2.2011

Because THIS, is what people have been waiting three days for.

Made it part of my run route, and ventured into Windsor Park for the Irish Cup replay between Linfield and Dunmurry Rec.

Soon after arriving, Linfield went 2-0 up, and the game was dead, so I decided to experiment with angles, including getting some shots from the back row of The Kop. Enjoy.

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE YOU’D JUST WISH THEY’D STAY THE SAME …..

You could say this week has been a PR disaster for UEFA. You could say that, but the problem is, it seems they don’t care what football fans think, so it’s debatable as to wether it is a PR disaster.

Prices were announced today for tickets for the European Cup Final. The first one in England in eight years, first one at Wembley in nineteen years, and neutrals wishing to take the opportunity to attend this match had better start saving up the £176 required for a ticket …………….. and that’s just the cheap seats.

When it was announced that European football’s showpiece game was being moved to a Saturday night (A move I actually agree with), UEFA President Michel Platini revealed that the motivation behind the move was to make the European Cup Final “A more family occasion

Pardon my ignorance, but on what planet does the average family have £176 per person to spend on a night out?

And a “cheap” one at that.

The furore over the price of European Cup Final tickets has helped to make UEFA and FIFA’s joint bid to stop UK TV viewers watching the World Cup for free slip under the news radar.

It almost makes UEFA PR geniuses in that they can bury bad news stories with ease, by simply releasing a bigger one to cover it.

You’d think that the World Cup organising committee would have more pressing concerns for future World Cups, like awarding the hosting of it to a country that can actually host it.

One of UEFA’s more obscure and baffling rules is that no top-flight football can take place on the same night as European Competitions, although that seemed to bypass Brimingham City, Newcastle United, Motherwell and Aberdeen, who played league matches this week.

Northern Ireland appears to be the only country adhering to this ruling, with games taking place on Monday past, games this coming Monday, and Linfield facing Portadown on Monday 14th March.

Are UEFA seriously suggesting that a couple of thousand (at most) people actually attending football matches (You’d think UEFA would be endorsing such consumer supporter behaviour) in the Irish League is driving TV audiences away from the European Cup?

If anything, the stale format of the European Cup, where the majority of the group stages is dull, unspiring with the novelty factor long gone, as teams generally play teams they will have previously played a couple of years previously.

If newspaper reports are to be believed, this is what the FA want for the FA Cup, with teams being seeded, and the final being moved to a 5.30pm kick-off on a Saturday teatime.

I’m no “Little Englander”, but the idea of a 5.30pm kick-off for the FA Cup Final is absurd.

I resent the fact that the Irish Cup Final has been moved to a 2.30pm kick-off for TV coverage. Most gallingly, so that the match and presentation can be wrapped up in time for Final Score.

I resent the idea of synchronised kick-offs and designated matchnights in European competition.

It would be nice if at least some traditions could be kept.

Don’t even start me on the idea of “Seeding”. Part of the joy of the FA Cup is that anybody can play anybody, and “Heavyweight clashes”, especially in the early rounds where two teams who believe they should win the competition face each other, with one going out.

The opposite to that, is when two minnows meet. Just look at the media attention Torquay United v Crawley Town got. Neither side frequents the 4th Round of the FA Cup, but both of them had a shot at glory, of reaching the 5th Round and possibly drawing a big club.

Is it too much to ask of those running football to stop having ideas for the sake of having ideas?

Just as important, is that these rebranded and restructured competitions are easy and affordable for people to watch, and to be able to watch their team at reasonable intervals, instead of twice in three days because of a ridiculous UEFA ruling to protect the bigger clubs.

That, would be the best idea of all.

THE BIG RONALDO RETIREMENT YOUTUBE COMPILATION BLOG

Today saw the announcement of the retirement from football of Ronaldo. No doubt, when the news broke, a lot of people will have thought it was Cristiano Ronaldo, before realising, it was “The other Ronaldo”

There was once a time when Ronaldo was Ronaldo, and Cristiano Ronaldo was “The other Ronaldo”

I remember Gary Lineker stating as a pundit before Brazil’s opening match of the 1994 World Cup that Brazilian team-mates at Grampus 8 had told him Ronaldo (Then in the squad as an 18 year old) was going to be a major star.

The 1994 World Cup would come too soon for him, but by the time of the 1998 World Cup, he was the world’s biggest football star.

He burst onto the scene in the eyes of the British public during the 1996/1997 season, his only season at Barcelona.

Sir Bobby Robson was manager of Barcelona, and as a result, they featured prominently in the round-up of the rest of the football news.

To put things into perspective, the only foreign football on British TV then was the World Cup, and the European Cup Final.

When Man United went out of the European Cup group stages in 1994, ITV didn’t show another live game until the final.

That may sound strange in this age of Spanish football on Sky every week and every Champions League game live on TV.

It only added to the mystique around him. The BBC treated us to live coverage of Spartak Moscow v Inter Milan in a UEFA Cup Semi-Final on a Tuesday afternoon in 1998.

The pitch, if you could call it that, was sand, but it didn’t matter, Ronaldo single handedly destroyed them.

As with any great player, enjoy, admire, aspire.

Enjoy some Youtube clips of his finest moments.

NORTHERN IRELAND 0-3 SCOTLAND 9.2.2011

Take a half day off work and spend £37 to watch a pub team. Oh joy.

Was in Dublin on Wednesday night to watch Northern Ireland take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in their opening match of the Carling Nations Cup.

It was an impressive stadium, though you should expect all newbuild stadiums to be, but the seats I was in had a shocking view, especially with stewards blocking my view.

Thankfully, there was enough space to go and sit elsewhere and take in the game.

The game itself wasn’t much to write about as Northern Ireland made Scotland look like worldbeaters and never even looked like scoring.

Hopefully, things improve in Serbia next month.

 

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I HAD THIS PERFECT DREAM ……

As work colleagues and Twitter followers will have been long aware, I was in Barcelona the past weekend on a short break.

Last year, I took a short break over the first weekend in February in Manchester, and wanted to do the same this year, as something exciting to look forward to over the winter months.

I decided that I didn’t want to go to mainland UK, but instead to go to mainland Europe, and then I had the idea of going somewhere with a top class football team, and try to get to a match, but not to make a football match the focal point of the trip.

I narrowed the options down to Munich and Barcelona, before eventually settling on Barcelona, to be in the city for a few days around the time they play Atletico Madrid.

The airline I booked with cancelled their flights from Belfast during the winter months, but did give me the option of changing my departure of Dublin, which I took, despite the fact I would leaving Belfast in the wee small hours ahead of an early morning flight.

Having done some prior research, I headed to the Tourist Information Office in the airport to get a ticket for the match, which was one less thing to worry about, as I set about getting checked in.

As soon as I checked in and left my bags in the room, I set about exploring the city, blindly, with no tourist maps.

I find that the best way to get lost in a city is to, erm, get lost in a city.

What struck me most was how much love there is for Street Art in Barcelona. Where there was free wallspace, or a shutter, there would be something drawn or spraypainted on to it.

Regular readers will know how much I love Street Art.

I checked out the Marina on the Thursday. Beautiful place and very photographable, or just good if you want to laze about and watch the world pass by.

I managed to find the Nou Camp by fluke, partly because I got the wrong metro stop to the one I was staying at.

Despite it being teatime on a Thursday and a non-matchday, it was rammed with tourists and people just wanting to see one of the world’s most iconic football stadiums.

After a double-digit sleep on Thursday night, I headed to Estadi Cornella-El Prat, home of the city’s other La Liga side Espanyol, where I got a guided tour of the stadium, taking in the stands, press room and changing rooms, where a symbolic space is left for former player Dani Jarque, who died in 2009.

A memorial of shirts and flowers is place in one of the stands, and plans are in place to place the shirt Andres Iniesta wore after scoring in the 2010 World Cup Final, and he subsequently donated to the club.

The remainder of Friday, and early on Saturday was spent exploring the lively Las Ramblas area of the city centre, full of life and activity.

At about 5pm on the Saturday, I decided to head over to Nou Camp for the game between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which kicked-off at 10pm local time.

There was me thinking that Linfield playing Setanta Cup matches at 5.30pm on a Saturday was odd.

I headed into the stadium and checked out my seat, three rows back in the second tier, unbelievable. It was great for amateur photography of portrait shots, rather than actual match action.

Barcelona won the match 3-0 with a hat-trick from Lionel Messi. Stating the obvious, but he is rather good. He was playing for fun at times, showing off as if was having a kickabout in the street.

Sunday was a lazy day, mostly spent watching football on TV and lazing at the marina before heading home on the Monday morning.

An excellent weekend well spent, and was well worth having as February’s STLFTEM.

Farewell Barcelona. If God is willing, we will meet again ……….. someday.

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GARY MOORE 1952-2011

Over the weekend, legendary Belfast born guitarist Gary Moore died in Spain.

Moore was commemorated in his home city a few years ago when a mural of him appeared in his native East Belfast.

It was outside The Oval, at the away terracing, alongside images of other East Belfast heroes such as Van Morrison and CS Lewis.

Sadly, new houses that were subsequently built mean that the mural, like it’s subject, is no more.

Phil Lynott, with whom he was long associated, is commemorated with a statue in his home city of Dublin.